Snails are not something I remember seeing much of growing up, and I’ve got a friend who’s rather fond of them, so I’ve been paying more attention to snails lately.  There are lots of them on the River Walk by the backwater where it floods all the time, so I take pictures when I see them and send them off to amuse or annoy my friend.

Snails are much better than birds in that regard–photographing birds with your cell phone is hard.  But snails!  Ah, snails move at a pace my photography skills and equipment can handle.  Here are a few of the snails I’ve seen:

Probably a grove snail.
I think it’s a grove snail.
Yeah, at this point I’m pretty sure these are grove snails.
Looks grove snail-ish.
The rare snaileus balloonicus.

Ok, possibly that last one is when I first learned how to twist a balloon snail.  Possibly.

Anyway I’m pretty sure all the living snails I’ve seen in Oswego are grove snails.  Apparently some snails can live to be up to 10 years old, according to Magill’s Encyclopedia of Science: Animal Life, but Wikipedia says grove snails only get up to about 8 years old.  Still pretty good for a creature that small!

Grove snails are also known as brown-lipped snails, and are not to be confused with white-lipped snails, despite the fact that some brown-lipped snails have shells with white lips.  True story.  Apparently you have to dissect them to actually tell the difference, in that case.  But nothing I’ve read says that white-lipped snails can have brown-lipped shells, plus it sounds like maybe white-lipped snails haven’t been imported to the US like brown-lipped snails have, so I’m going with these snails probably being brown-lipped snails / grove snails.

So, yeah, did I mention they’re not native to the U.S.?  That’s a shame.  It’s hard to be quite so fond of invasive species.

But!  In the course of trying to figure out what kind of snails I was running into on the River Walk all the time, I came across this: the Chittenango Ovate Amber Snail.

A snail that’s only found at Chittenango Falls, in the entire world!  Now I have an excuse to go back there–I need to find a snail to admire.  There are more details on Wikipedia.

In other news, I can’t really write about snails without at least mentioning that snail jousting in medieval manuscripts is my favorite marginalia ever:

Snail jousting illumination.

There’s at least one scholarly paper about it, too… but I seem to have lost hold of that citation, and it’s taking more than 30 seconds to recover.  Maybe that can be a future post.  In the mean time, many thanks to the British Library for its Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, from whence I retrieved the wonderful snail joust to the right.